The W.C. Handy Music Festival

Da Doo Run Run Cancelled

Given the evolving public health situation and potential spread of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 "W.C. Handy Festival Da Doo Run Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run" originally scheduled for July 25, 2020. We are saddened that we won’t be able to host our favorite running event of the year in the Florence-Shoals area. Please know that this decision was not made lightly, but we must put the health and well-being of our community first. We appreciate your understanding in advance.

We aim to make the 2021 "W.C. Handy Festival Da Doo Run Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run" bigger and better than ever.

Look forward to seeing everyone back in 2021!

W.C. Handy Festival 2020

After much discussion, thought, and prayer, the Music Preservation Society Board of Directors, along with the W.C. Handy Festival Steering Committee, have reached the decision to move forward with plans for this year.

We recognize that the number of cases is still increasing each day, and that while we are all impacted, there may be those of you who have loved ones who were even more directly affected. Please know that we have no wish to be insensitive to the effects that the pandemic is having on everyone. We believe, however, in the power of music, and that after we have begun to regain some sense of normalcy, we will have a reason to celebrate having come through this time. We may be physically distant from one another, but we are still socially connected. Somehow, we'll be able to show that connection during the W.C. Handy Festival.

It will take time to recover spiritually, physically, and economically. To address the latter, the MPS Board met last month and, given the circumstances, made the decision to reduce participation fees in an effort to assist our event coordinators, restaurants, and sponsors. We do not know what the Festival will look like this year, but we are determined to continue to honor the legacy of Mr. Handy and the music history of the Shoals.

We have explored ideas to create a safe Festival. And we look forward to hearing your ideas also. Thank you for planning your 2020 Handy Festival events. Thank you all. Please stay safe.

2020 Design

2020 Handy Festival Brochure Design

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2019 Brochure (PDF)

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In Memory of Edsel Holden

Last December a guiding force behind the Handy Festival, Edsel Holden, took his last bow. He had been in the hospital since November 6th, with some days better than others. Being Edsel, he was still joking around even still. There was no one in the world quite like him.

We all have our stories and memories of this kind man. I cannot imagine how it will be not seeing, talking to, and taking direction from him during this year's festival. He loved life, he loved his family (including both his blood relatives and his fellow music lovers), and he loved good music. He loved the Handy Festival, and he appreciated what everyone contributed to it.

Tori Bailey

Below are thoughts from fellow friends of Edsel and the festival.

I always think of him as a friend, and I am very sorry to learn that he is gone. He was a sparkling light for everyone who knew him and he will be deeply missed.


Edsel will be sorely missed by many. I will pray for his family.

Susann Hamlin

He will truly truly be missed by me. A one of a kind.

Denise Thimes

I was so sad to hear this. Edsel was a great guy! One of the first people I met when I came to the Handy Festival around 20 years ago. He welcomed me and was so gracious and made me feel right at home!

His presence was such an integral part of what has shaped the Handy Fest to be such a wonderful experience for us all. He will be greatly missed.

Robert Redd

Although I was late in coming to know Edsel, I am grateful that I did get to know him, and share his passion for music, delight in people, and joy in life. I’m glad the the Handy Festival is in good hands; each Festival is a proper and fitting tribute to Edsel and his vision.

Bill Huber

I'm very sad to hear about Edsel. He was a wonderful man and musician. He was one of those who makes things happen, who inspires and involves and encourages people to do big things, to be the best they can be, to take advantage of the great opportunities life can bring. Edsel is responsible for giving me the opportunity to have 20 wonderful years of playing music with great musicians. I will always be grateful to him and to you and to all the others who made Handy happen for me. Handy was one the few most important events and influences in my life - unforgettable times and events and people!


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The WC Handy Music Festival

Contact Us

Music Preservation Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 1827
Florence, AL 35631
(256) 766-7642